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Ex-Bulldogs contribute at collegiate level
Ceres High School's varsity softball program won its last league championship in 2006.

Jennifer Arnold was the star pitcher on the team.

Monica Hall (shortstop), Vaneza Hoover (third base) and Kristen Ghimenti (second base) made up three-fourths of the Bulldogs' infield.

The former Ceres High standouts have all made a difference this spring at the collegiate level.

"It was a privilege to coach those girls," former Bulldog leader Mike Corsaut said. "They played so well together. They worked hard. They were fun to be around. They made my job easier."

Said Hoover: "I looked up to those girls my freshman year. It gave me a lot of motivation to continue on and follow in their footsteps."

Arnold (Class of 2006) earned second-team, all-conference honors while pitching and playing first base for NCAA Division-II Cal State Stanislaus, which posted a 13-36-1 overall record and finished 8-28 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (ninth place). The senior batted .273 (35-for-128) with six homers, 10 doubles, one triple, 24 runs, 16 RBIs and six stolen bases. She also notched six wins with a 3.86 ERA, 15 complete games, 78 strikeouts and 31 walks in 27 appearances on the mound.

Jennifer was named the Modesto Metro Conference's MVP during her final season with the Bulldogs. She finished 13-5 on the year with a 0.73 ERA, 117 strikeouts, 15 complete games and eight shutouts. Arnold batted .468 from the plate with one homer, 12 doubles, 12 runs and seven RBIs.

Hall (Class of 2006), a senior utility player for Division-I University of South Carolina Upstate, amassed a .320 batting average, two homers, 11 doubles, eight runs, 20 RBIs and three stolen bases through the Spartans' first 47 games.

Monica helped lead Upstate (35-12 overall, 10-8 Atlantic Sun Conference) to its first-ever win against an SEC opponent on April 6. She had an RBI single in a three-run first inning as the Spartans rolled to a 6-0 victory against South Carolina. Upstate is trying to secure one of six spots in the A-Sun Tournament.

Hall earned MMC first-team accolades at Ceres High. She batted .333 with one homer, two doubles, nine runs and three RBIs during her senior year.

Hoover (Class of 2009) had a productive first season at Division-II Humboldt State, which compiled a 32-23 record and finished in fifth place in the CCAA (21-15). The freshman pitcher tallied 14 wins, to go along with a 2.40 ERA, 17 complete games, three shutouts, 97 strikeouts and 67 walks.

Vaneza was named to the MMC first team while playing for Ceres High as a freshman in 2006. She batted .489 with three triples, five doubles and 13 RBIs.

Hoover was a second-team, all-conference selection during her sophomore season.

She claimed the Valley Oak League Pitcher of the Year award as a junior (18-10 record, 2.08 ERA, 199 strikeouts, six shutouts, two no-hitters). Vaneza's senior season came to an abrupt end due to unspecified disciplinary reasons. She had an 8-2 record with a 0.75 ERA, 115 strikeouts, one no-hitter and four shutouts.

"We had our issues but I'm glad she's doing well," said Donnie Donaldson, Ceres High's current head coach and former assistant on Corsaut's staff. "She's a phenomenal pitcher. I hope it continues."

Ghimenti (Class of 2007) scattered 14 hits and struck out four batters over nine innings during NAIA Division-II Bethany University's 8-7 win over University of Great Falls on April 3 in Scotts Valley. The junior pitcher tallied two wins for the Bruins, who finished 6-30 on the year and last in the California Pacific Conference (1-15).

"That's the first time I've got to watch her play," Donnie said. "She's having fun."

Ghimenti received second-team, MMC honors as a junior at Ceres High. She batted .244 with one double, three runs and two RBIs. Kristen had a 1-0 record as a pitcher, tallying 11 strikeouts in a 3-2 win over Modesto High.

Ghimenti was voted VOL Pitcher of the Year as a senior. She had an 8-6 record, 0.69 ERA, 171 strikeouts and four shutouts in 91 innings.

"Looking back, it's hard to believe how good that 2006 team actually was," Donaldson said.

Ceres High had a stellar year despite competing without Meghan Franksen (Cal State Stanislaus) and Heidi Eisenbeis (St. Mary's), who were both lost to graduation.

The Bulldogs claimed the MMC title (12-3), qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the 21st consecutive year and posted a 17-8 overall record.

Corsaut was named the conference's top coach.

"I got to coach a lot of talented girls," he said.

Ceres High's softball program has had a host of players earn college scholarships over the years.

Arnold, Hall, Hoover and Ghimenti followed in the footsteps of Omaira Estremera (Cal State Stanislaus), Meghan Franksen (Cal State Stanislaus), Brianne Ferguson (Sacramento State) and Danielle de la Porte (UC Davis).

Bulldog standouts Jode Johnson (senior shortstop), Ryan Norton (junior outfielder) and Kaycee Creek (sophomore pitcher) will carry on the tradition.

"It doesn't get old reading or hearing about them (former CHS players)," Corsaut said. "I'm glad they get to do something they love and get their education paid for. That's amazing."

Added Donaldson: "I'm constantly checking up on them. That's the best part about coaching. When you see your girls succeed."

Said Hoover: "I believe the tradition is going to keep on going."